When a child is diagnosed with autism, it affects his or her siblings as much as it does the parents. Sisters and brothers have to adjust to the household’s altered schedule and accept that Mom and Dad sometimes have to devote more attention to the sib with autism. They also learn to relate to their sister or brother in their own individual ways.
Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita blogs for Parenting magazine this month about the special relationship her two sons share. Ten-year-old CJ is not only a loving brother to three-year-old Nicholas – he also plays a big part in the progress Nick has made since his diagnosis.
Everyone in the family has a role in Nick’s support – shopping for his special dietary needs, handling finances, working with him on speech and cognitive issues – but it’s CJ who really “gets it,” according to Jacqueline.
“He’s the understanding, patient, loving big brother,” she writes. “It’s remarkable how he gets Nick to laugh and make good eye contact. Even more amazing, Nicholas calls CJ by name, which is just incredible to hear.”
Although the reality mom was worried at first that her older son might be jealous of the attention his little brother would be receiving, her fears were unfounded. CJ prides himself on being a role model, modeling behaviors like getting dressed and brushing teeth. He also acts as the “food police,” making sure Nick can’t get hold of snacks that are off-limits on his gluten-free diet. And when his brother is attending therapy sessions, he enjoys the one-on-one time he gets with Jacqueline for a couple of hours.
Most of all, CJ helps his brother by simply being a brother. After learning that Nick had autism and would have trouble communicating, CJ continued to interact and play with him as he would any toddler.
“[W]hen I see the two brothers together, playing with blocks on the living room floor, I realize it was CJ who taught us to treat him like any other kid,” Jacqueline says. “He is the best therapist Nick could ever have.”
Talk about an awesome brother and an amazing relationship. And you know what’s even better? The special bond between these two brothers is sure to last a lifetime.
[Photo: via Twitter.]